|Developer(s)||Naked Sky Entertainment|
|Release||Xbox Live Arcade
December 29, 2010
January 4, 2011
|Genre(s)||Shoot 'em up|
MicroBot is a twin-stick shooter video game developed by Naked Sky Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade on December 29, 2010 and on PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on January 4, 2011. In the game the player controls a MicroBot; a microscopic robot designed to combat infections in the human body. The robot is tasked with destroying previous generation MicroBots which have become corrupted while fighting disease in the body.
Critics were divided on their opinions of the game, but overall review scores were moderate. Aggregate scores averaged in the 60% range for both platforms at websites GameRankings and Metacritic. Most reviewers praised the game's visual and audio presentation. They felt that the environments were convincing as areas of the body and that the soundtrack was strong. Critics differed in opinion in regards to gameplay; many praised the addition of local cooperative play and the ability to upgrade the MicroBot with new weaponry and features, but many felt the game did not add enough new gameplay elements to the genre to keep the player interested long-term.
The game is a twin-stick shooter that takes place within a human body. Fictional medial corporation MicroHexon has developed a line of microscopic robots designed to fight infection inside humans. The player controls a fourth-generation MicroBot, the newest iteration of the series. It is tasked with destroying infections caused by now-corrupted previous generation MicroBots. The game begins with the player character floating inside a hypodermic needle. The MicroBot is then injected into the human body and gameplay begins. The game's levels span across five major areas of the human body with each area consisting of four levels.
The MicroBot can upgrade its weapons to destroy enemies and cure diseases. Weapons can be attached to multiple points on the robot, and each weapon type has different abilities which allows the player to customize their robot as they see fit. Over 20 different weapons can be attached to the robot. Additional attachment slots can be unlocked as players progress. In addition to smaller enemies, the game features five boss battles throughout the campaign. Levels are procedurally generated, meaning that the environment changes somewhat each time the game is played. MicroBot also features a Challenge mode in addition to the main campaign in which players must survive continuous waves of enemies for as long as possible. Local cooperative play for two players is supported. The second player can join or leave the game at any time during gameplay.
MicroBot was unveiled on October 18, 2010 via a press release. It was developed by Naked Sky Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade on December 29, 2010 and on PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network on January 4, 2011. Glazer cited several titles as inspiration for the game; older twin-stick shooters Robotron and Smash TV, 2003's Geometry Wars, the popular dungeon crawler series Diablo and fellow Electronic Arts title Spore were also cited as inspiration for their elements of customization. During its unveiling critics also cited similarities to the films Osmosis Jones and The Incredible Journey. It also was compared to the games R-Type Final, Einhänder, and Blasteroids. In response Jason Haber of Electronic Arts stated "we hope it invokes a lot of pleasant memories of older games but also creates new ones."
In speaking of the game's setting Haber stated "We wanted to take gamers to a place they have rarely visited before — the world inside the human body. The fluid dynamics of the world and the customization of the MicroBot come together to create a unique take on the arcade shooter genre." Naked Sky Entertainment Chief Technical Officer Joshua Glazer further explained the game's fluid dynamics. "[The game] has a really intense fluid simulation. The fluid isn’t just for graphical effect though- you’ll feel it pushing you around as it spurts and spews all over the place."
MicroBot was met with mixed reception from critics, but moderate reception overall. It currently averages a score of 62.27% for the Xbox 360 and 69.00% for the PlayStation 3 at GameRankings, a video game aggregate website. Fellow aggregate website Metacritic reports similar scores; 63/100 for the Xbox 360 and 61/100 for the PlayStation 3. Reviewers were divided in their individual scores on the game. The lowest score came from Edge, who rated MicroBot 4/10. The highest score, a 95/100, came from Phil Owen of GameFront. ARS Technica gave the game a "buy" rating.
Reviewers generally praised the visual and audio design aspects of the game. RunDLC reviewer Chris Buffa praised the visual presentation. "The designers did outstanding work bringing the human body to life, with red blood cells, tissue, veins and bone." Chris Waters of GameSpot also praised the games visuals. He called them a "vivid imagining of microscopic environments." He noted that the game's setting was convincing due to the visual design and "ethereal, atmospheric" soundtrack. The reviewer from Edge felt that the game made a strong first impression. They called the introduction sequence and soundtrack "high-class presentation". Kristan Reed, reviewer for Eurogamer, stated that players will want to convince their friends to try the game "thanks to the mere beauty of its organic environments." Dakota Grabowski of GameZone called the game's soundtrack "beautifully creepy."
Critics were divided on their opinions of MicroBot's gameplay mechanics. IGN's Kristine Steimer felt that the levels were sometimes imbalanced, and that boss fights were occasionally "a pain in the ass". Steimer did note that the inclusion of puzzle elements were "refreshing". The reviewer from Edge felt that the game's procedurally generated level design did not deliver the desired effect of randomized gameplay. They stated that "the absence of a human touch is keenly felt." The reviewer did note the welcome addition of local cooperative multiplayer. Jason Jasicki, reviewer for Machinima.com also appreciated to addition of cooperative gameplay; he further gave high remarks for the game's "tight controls and customizability." GameSpot's Chris Watters was more critical of gameplay; he called the action "rarely exciting" and "simplistic". Chris Buffa of RunDLC felt that the gameplay did not provide enough new and fresh features to differentiate it from other twin-stick shooters, but praised the addition of cooperative gameplay. He noted that two player cooperative "gives you a chance to strategize with a friend." Marko Djordjevic of GameFocus criticized the pace of the levels, but praised the level of customization GameZone's Dakota Grabowski expressed disappointment in the fact online play was omitted, but conceded that local cooperative play that allows the second player to join or leave the game at any time was a welcome addition.
- Steimer, Kristine (2010-10-21). "MicroBot: The Other Way to Destroy Brain Cells". IGN. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Tolito, Stephen (2010-10-18). "MicroBots Is Like Space Invaders Inside Your Guts". Kotaku. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- Tong, Sophia (2010-10-18). "MicroBot First Impression". GameSpot. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
- Artest, John (2010-10-18). "MicroBot Interview (Xbox Live, PSN)". RunDLC. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- "Interview: MicroBot revealed!". Destructoid via YouTube. 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- "EA Unveils MicroBot, an Innovative Twist on the Classic Arcade Shooter". IGN. 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- Gilbert, Ben (October 18, 2010). "MicroBot preview: Inner conflict". Joystiq. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
- "MicroBot Screens #2". Gamers Hell. December 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
- Micu, Vlad (2010-12-13). "Robot enthusiasts rejoice: Microbot will offer twin stick fun on a cellular level with sparkly co-op sprinkles on top.". XBLAfans. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- "MicroBot for Xbox 360 - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "MicroBot for PlayStation 3 - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "MicroBot for Xbox 360 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- "MicroBot for PlayStation 3 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Edge staff (2011-01-07). "MicroBot Review". Edge. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Reed, Kristan (2011-01-07). "Download Games Roundup". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Watters, Chris (2011-01-06). "MicroBot Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Steimer, Kristine (2011-01-07). "MicroBot Review". IGN. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Jasicki, Jason (2011-01-06). "MicroBot Review". Machinima.com. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Owen, Phil (2011-01-13). "MicroBot Review". GameFront. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Webster, Andrew (2011-01-05). "Fighting infection with missiles: Ars reviews Microbot". ARS Technica. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Buffa, Chris (2011-01-03). "MicroBot Review (Xbox Live, PSN)". RunDLC. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Grabowski, Dakota (2011-01-02). "MicroBot". GameZone. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Djordjevic, Marko (2011-01-03). "MicroBot". GameFocus. Retrieved 2011-01-14.